EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: MDE 15/06/95
UA 67/95 Torture / Fear of torture 16 March 1995
ISRAEL AND THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES Ziyadah Qawasmah, aged 19, student
Ziyadah Qawasmah has been in detention for 122 days. According to his lawyer,
he has been hooded, deprived of sleep for up to six days a week, and shackled
in painful positions for prolonged periods throughout this time. He is still
under interrogation by the General Security Service (GSS) in Ramallah Prison,
where he remains at risk of torture and ill-treatment.
Ziyadah Qawasmah, a student in his final year of high school in Hebron, was
not allowed to meet his lawyer until about 25 days after his arrest on 13 November
1994, and he still does not have access to his family. He has now received
a total of nine orders extending his detention - most recently on 8 March,
for 12 days. He reportedly told his lawyer that his interrogators told him
that he would not be allowed to leave interrogation without confessing to his
alleged activities in connection with the Islamist movement Hamas.
The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and Article 7 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which Israel has ratified,
forbid unconditionally the use of any form of torture or ill-treatment. No
justification may be used to derogate from a State Party's obligations under
Since 1987, interrogations by the GSS have been regulated by secret guidelines,
established by a Commission of Inquiry into GSS interrogation methods, headed
by Justice Moshe Landau. These guidelines allow the use of "moderate physical
In October 1994, after a suicide-bombing claimed by Hamas which caused the
death of 22 people, the Israeli Ministerial Committee which oversees the
operations of the GSS apparently authorized the use of "increased physical
pressure" for a three-month period. This three-month period was renewed on
23 January 1995 after other suicide bombings at Beit Lid near Netanya killed
20 soldiers and one civilian.
Since the guidelines are secret, the meaning of "increased physical pressure"
is not known. Responses to earlier Urgent Actions have stated that there has
been "no deviation from the principles" set out in the guidelines of the Landau
Commission. However, Amnesty International has long had serious concerns about
interrogation practices by the GSS, believing that either the guidelines permit
the use of torture or ill-treatment, or that interrogators have been extensively
violating those guidelines with impunity. Since 1987, Palestinian detainees
have systematically reported that they have suffered hooding, prolonged sleep
deprivation, shackling in painful positions, (sitting on very small chairs
or standing tied to the wall), confinement in closet-sized cells and beating.
This torture or ill-treatment is generally used in order to make detainees
provide information or confess. After a confession a defendant may be sentenced
in a military court without the production of further substantive evidence.
In letters to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin since the authorization of "increased
physical pressure", Amnesty International has asked what methods involving